So I am very in love with this book.
I’ve read it twice this year (the second time because I was gifting it to my friend and had to read it again so we can discuss it once she’s finished)
It’s so good!!
It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.
It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
First of all, this book is kind of relevant right now. While their situation might be a little different, it’s all about a disease that’s taken over Raxter, the Raxter girls, and their lives.
It’s a story of survival, feminism and difficult friendships, and it’s definitely not a light or happy story. I love how sad this can get sometimes, and all the little plot twists riddled throughout are exciting and clever. I especially love Hetty, and, of course, Reece. While their names are different and old fashioned (I think), It just lends this whole surreal vibe to the whole book. Reece guards her emotions and herself very closely, and I relate to that, and therefore to her. The times when she opens up are honest and great to read and I think that contrast in her character is really great.
Byatt, I’m not so sure about. Part of the way through the book we get a bit of perspective from her, and she really paints a different picture of herself to what Hetty described. This made it a bit hard for me to get a clear picture in my head of what she’s really like, what her motivations are, but maybe it’s intentional. After all, the Tox completely messed up the lives, and the personalities, of the Raxter girls.
It’s very cool how it’s set at an all-girls school on Raxter Island, of the coast of Maine (I’m pretty sure), surrounded by unique and unusual wildlife and evidently the weird and sometimes wonderful Tox that changes the girls in strange ways.
While I won’t talk about this aspect too much because spoilers the whole Navy and scientist thing is really INTERESTING and Welch’s relationship with them (don’t worry she’s not secretly a spy pretending to have the Tox) makes it all the more real for me.
So yay I managed to keep that relatively short and I super duper recommend reading this because it’s just great.